The Harvard of New Jersey left our captain unprepared. Oh, he may have learned the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow (both African AND European), but his miscalculation of the incubation period of cryptosporidiosis (“crypto”) proved to be the undoing of the Morris Masters on that fateful Saturday in Bayonne, NJ. Morris, you see, had joined with mates from Long Island and the Gentlemen of New York to take on the mighty Connecticut Greys and the robust Bayonne Bombers. The numbers of our hosts, it should be mentioned, were bolstered by several Irish rugby players who, it now seems possible, were flown in on the backs of the very Canadian geese that were the heart of the undoing of your Morris Masters squad.
Search any medical database and you’ll find proof that the excrement of Canadian geese carries a nasty little bug called cryptosporidiosis. When ingested, the bug burrows into the small intestine of the host (they like hookers and props, backs and forwards without discrimination) causing nausea, diarrhea, dehydration and malaise among other lovely maladies. This is all relevant because the rugby pitch in Bayonne was filled with goose poop. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that our second palooza of the fall season was played in a field of goose poop from which a temporary rugby pitch was carved.
But having arrived early to survey the field, our captain – Big Papi (he of the Harvard/New Jersey center for higher learning) – had a plan. We’d allow the mighty Greys and the Irish Bombers to play first; obviously crypto would invade their aging bodies and they’d quickly succumb to dehydration and malaise, maybe even nausea and diarrhea. By the time the Morris Masters would take the field against the Greys in stanza #2 it wouldn’t be a fair fight.
Except the plan didn’t work. The incubation period, as any Morris Master now understands, is longer than the 20 minutes of the first palooza stanza. Scientific proof of same emerged as neither the Grey’s forwards nor backs displayed any evidence of malaise; scoring four unanswered trys against a Morris Masters squad that was simultaneously reeling from seeing its Master plan unravel and recalibrating the incubation period ahead of the third stanza.
Almost miraculously, we Masters did stave off our own crypto symptoms long enough to battle back against the Greys. Or, it’s possible that Big Papi’s calculations were only off by 15 minutes and their herd weakened enough to allow us back in the match. During the last five minutes of the second set your Morris Masters rallied to score twice – once from a Bomber on loan for the match and one score by the triumphantly returning Adam B (not beer) who, displaying more field acumen than your average forward, took a long pass to the outside and scored in the corner of the excrement-filled try zone. Let’s hope he kept his mouth closed upon putting the ball down.
Alas, by the third matchup of the day the Masters had begun to succumb to the effects of crypto – malaise and dehydration being the two most evident problems. Not that we didn’t have our moments. Karl, BT, Mitch and the Mayor showed that touch ruby can translate into memorable moments on the rugby field; though touching one’s mouthpiece during this palooza was exactly the pathway to infection that our Bomber-hosts, suspiciously, avoided. Their understanding of the public health hazard presented by the presence of cryptosporidium in the feces of Canadian geese was, we Masters strongly suspect, the main reason we were shut out in the third stanza.
A fourth matchup was played, but who really cares about the outcome? By this point, even the hosts were dehydrated and all paloozaers joined to combat the effects of our newly-acquired bugs by killing them with the only FDA approved treatment available – ice cold Pabst Blue Ribbon.
It’s rumored a drink up at Danny Boy’s followed the match. Thanks to cryptosporidium, we suspect the line to the bathroom was as long as the line to the beer.
 See, for instance, Kassa, H, (et al), Cryptosporidiosis: A brief literature review and update regarding Cryptosporidium in feces of Canada geese (Branta canadensis). Journal of Environmental Health (2004).